Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Module 4: Tools for Online Courses

With your graphic organizer, include a reflection describing how you can bring the technological tools learners are using outside the classroom into the educational process, and which tools and strategies are best for this purpose. Make sure to explain why each tool works well in a learning environment and the benefits and advantages it provides.

Learners today are using a variety of tools outside the classroom. By employing tools that have already been accepted by users, the instructor can facilitate collaboration and communication between online learners. For example, Google Docs is a popular tool that allows users in different locations to collaborate on a document, spreadsheet, or presentation in real time. The learners may also use the Chat feature to communicate with each other while they are working on the document. Other programs provide this type of group collaboration, as well. Zoho and Redliner are just a few of the commonly used applications that facilitate learning in this way.

To facilitate brainstorming sessions among online learners, Wallwisher may be used. This allows users in different locations to post notes, ideas, videos, and graphics up easily in real time as they develop ideas for online projects. One of the highlights of this product is that it is extremely easy to use and requires no membership so an impromptu meeting can be held easily.

For online chat communication and whiteboards, programs such as Vyew, Stixy, Dabbleboard, and Twiddla are wonderful for allowing learners to add graphics and notes in real time as they collaborate on a project.

In terms of online learning centers, a wonderful tool to provide content to students, TrackStar is an incredible tool. This allows the instructor to create a group of activities for students and provides the content in a framed environment. For younger students, this keeps them safer than environments that are open to the web.

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